Want to Know a Secret? There Are Ways to Motivate and Keep Your Child Engaged While Reading!
Helping your child to become motivated and stay engaged in reading is one of the biggest challenges that many parents and caregivers face today. I know this because I hear this pretty much on a daily basis from my clients, as well as from people I meet who have children who just can’t seem to get interested in books.
It’s no wonder, since access to thousands of gaming apps. are available with just the touch of the screen! And to many children, guess what will seem more entertaining? If you guessed gaming, then you guessed right!
The Pros and Cons of Technology
I love technology! I honestly do. There are so many beneficial uses for technological devices. Think about it…we now have access to millions and millions of articles and posts dealing with just about anything we could ever want to know, just by typing in a few words! Now, that is cool! Many students are also now able to complete research projects on their devices, do writing assignments, as well as read books and do many other educational tasks.
The use of computers, tablets, and even cell phones can be wonderful for those kids who use them wisely. I’m not talking about spending every single hour they are awake for learning! I do believe there needs to be a balance between work and play. I just think that kids need to use their devices for the right purposes.
However, for some students, technology simply represents play time, as they spend countless hours a day playing games, in favor of doing their homework or relaxing with a good book! Believe me…I should know.
I have spent the last 31 years teaching kids of all ages, and I think I have heard just about every excuse for why they “couldn’t” get their homework done. Most of the time, it all boils down to the time they spent playing games and texting instead of working. In a previous post, I talked about the possible future of many of my “gamers!”
Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Enjoy Reading More
In this post, I would love to share with you some ideas for actually motivating your children to read, as well as keeping them engaged in the story plot of each book or story. I will begin with ideas for the babies, and work my way through elementary school.
However, Before I Begin…
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Reading to Your Baby
It’s never too soon to begin reading to your child. In fact, studies have shown that the earlier children are exposed to literature, the sooner they will begin to read and write, in many instances. And, who doesn’t want that for their child?
We, as parents and educators, all want our kids to succeed in all areas of life. So, we must start when they are just babies. I have even seen many “soon to be moms” reading to their bellies when they are pregnant! In fact, the husband of one of my close friends used to sit beside her every night when she was pregnant, and read to their unborn child! It goes to show that it’s never too early to begin!
Cloth and Board Books
There are several ways to keep your babies engaged while reading to them. Babies love the texture of cloth books, as well as board books. These would make great starter books! As you introduce these books to your baby, you may find that your little one will mainly want to “touch” and turn the pages over and over! They may actually even try to “eat” a page! This is perfectly normal.
Soon though, as you begin to read the words to them, whether there is only one word on each page or more, your child will begin to grasp the idea that each word aligns with a picture.
For example, a page with a picture of a duck will usually have the word “duck” on that page. They will eventually come to associate that word with the picture! And yes, even babies get excited when they learn new things!
Reading Teaches Babies Valuable Communication Skills
Reading to your baby early on also teaches them valuable communication skills. When they hear you reading, using expression and enthusiasm, it helps to positively stimulate them to enjoy the stories more, as well as help them learn to speak more fluently later on.
Reading to Your Little One Also Creates Much Needed Bonding Time
As an added bonus, the close one-on-one attention they receive while you’re reading to them fosters more bonding between the two of you, and makes your baby realize that reading to them is an important part of your everyday life, as well.
Reading to Your Toddler
As children advance in age, reading to them becomes even more critical. They should now be at the point where they are engaging more with books and asking questions. This is what you want! I’ve included a really cute video of different things you can do to make the stories come alive from The Atlanta Speech School’s Wardlaw School. I hope that you’ll take the time to watch!
Use Different Voices for the Characters!
If your child is not paying attention while you’re reading, try using different voices for each character in the story. You may even choose to “act” out certain parts of the story! Make it fun! I guarantee that your kids will love to see you acting silly! It may also serve to help you relax from a grueling day at work!
Ask Questions to See if They Understand
After you read a few pages, try asking them questions such as, “What do you think will happen next?” Or… “What did you like best about this book?” If your child can give you an answer, no matter how short, you know they’re listening! This, in addition, will foster the much needed attention skills that they will need as they enter prekindergarten, and even kindergarten.
Draw Pictures After Reading
Another fun thing would be to let your child draw a picture of his/her favorite part of the story. Then, have them tell you what they drew. Even if they’re just babbling, it will definitely be worth it!
Reading With Your Preschool and Kindergarten Children
In a previous post, I talked about the importance of getting your child ready for kindergarten. Teaching your child the letters of the alphabet and the sound that each letter makes is just one thing you can do to help your child achieve “reading readiness.” Actually, this is probably the single most important thing you can do at this stage to help your child become ready for a lifetime of learning.
Once they know their letters and sounds, they are ready to put short words together. In another post, I discuss how I begin teaching reading to the younger kids. At first, it will probably be slow going. So, don’t be alarmed! Just be happy that your child is actually beginning to read!
Increase the Amount of Reading Time Gradually
As your children pick up more momentum with their reading, please be sure to continue reading to them every day. You might increase the amount of reading time by a minute or two every time you read to them to help them stay focused. This is extremely important!
Now would be a good time to bring in comprehension questions to make sure they are understanding what you, or they, are reading. Some good examples of this would be, “What is the problem in the story?” “What happened right after…,” and even, “What did you like or not like about this story?” This will help to ensure that they are ready to start kindergarten.
Ways to Make it Fun!
When I taught prekindergarten and kindergarten, I used to have a reading corner with lots of cushy pillows, stuffed animals, comfy chairs, and lots of books! My kiddos would absolutely love to sit or lay across the pillows and chairs, and “read” to each other, or even to a stuffed animal. It was extremely cute to watch!
Attend Story Time at Your Local Library
Another way to keep the younger children engaged in reading is to check out your local library to see if they have “Story Time” for the little ones. Many libraries have story time on Saturday, so that parents will have time to bring their children in. It’s good for your child to hear other adults reading!
Reward Your Child For Paying Attention When You Read
One final thing you might try to keep your prekindergarten and kindergarten children interested in what you’re reading is to reward them for listening. Kids love stickers, stamps on their hands, and small prizes!
If they know they will be given a “prize” for listening to a story and participating if you ask them questions, they will more than likely be sure to pay extra close attention!
Some Wonderful Workbooks That May Help
I have included some links in light blue to a wonderful publishing company that I have been buying from since I began my teaching career! It is called Carson-Dellosa Publishing Group. They have some terrific prekindergarten and kindergarten workbooks that may help your child to get ahead. This will be an added bonus as they begin their “reading careers!”
Keeping Your Elementary School Child Interested in Reading
Those of you who have kiddos in elementary school probably either have kids who can’t seem to put their books down at bedtime, or have what I like to call, “Bookphobia!” What I have found over the last 31 years of working with kids is that they are either book lovers, or book-“not so much lovers!” (Can you tell that I don’t like to use the word, haters?!)
If you’re one of the many parents who have kids who are finicky and just can’t seem to “get into” a book, I encourage you to keep reading to them. It would also be great if they could see you reading books of your own. This will show them that you value reading.
Drop Everything and Read!
Make time every night for about 15 minutes to an hour of DEAR time, otherwise known as Drop Everything and Read time. This is where the entire family drops everything they may be doing and reads! Kids can even read to their pets! (That way, they won’t be excluded!)
I know that it may be difficult to find time every single night due to busy schedules. However, even if you’re only able to do it once every few days, it will make a big difference!
Let Your Kids Read What They Want to Read!
Ok, I know some of you may disagree with this. I used to, but now that I let my picky readers read what they want to read, including graphic novels and cartoons, at least I know they’re reading something that they enjoy! There’s nothing better than seeing your child happy while reading!
Why Not Try Kids Magazines?
Another way to engage your elementary aged children in reading is by letting them read magazines for children. In another post, I talk about the children’s magazines that I highly recommend for kids 12 and under. If you’re interested, I hope you’ll read it!
One magazine that I absolutely love is Highlights For Kids. I actually read this magazine when I was a little girl! I remember getting so excited whenever I got “mail” with my name on it! I can’t recommend a better periodical for kids! These are equipped with wonderful stories, word searches, mazes, and so much more!
Another great magazine for the “animal lover” in your child is the Zoobooks Magazine. These magazines give wonderful information and extraordinary pictures of all types of animals! They are extremely informative and fun for children who are inspired by animals. Right now, they are offering free gifts with a subscription, including a free digital subscription! Please feel free to look around and check this out!
I hope I have given you some ideas that you can use to engage even the pickiest of your readers in some great books, magazines, and even eBooks.
I would love to hear from you! If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below, and I will be sure to get back with you as soon as I get a chance. And, as always…Happy reading to you and your child!